Ahead the Assembly elections in Northern Ireland tomorrow, Matthew Robinson sets out how the Conservatives will approach key issues facing Stormont, such as Northern Ireland's long-neglected health system and outdated planning system.

I think we can all agree that the last term of the Assembly didn't really achieve all that much and was dominated by the parties trying to find reasons not to do their jobs. Out of the five years we only really got two of actual work.

However there was one glimpse of light, near the end we got a concerted effort to actually pass meaningful legislation. We need to ensure that the next crop of MLAs continues that momentum and that we elect members who thrive in that atmosphere of cross party collaboration.

As someone who worked in the European Parliament for seven years, I am no stranger to this. Working across political divides is the only way to get things done in Brussels; in Stormont it is doubly true.

There is now a genuine opportunity to renew our focus and concentrate on the areas shamefully neglected by Stormont. Day to day governance has always been the focus of the Conservative and Unionist Party and we seek to move beyond the divisive, internecine squabbles of the legacy Stormont parties. As a result, in this election we are focussing on how we can make a difference on the ground.

The Health Service is in a parlous state after decades of neglect. Which is why we are pushing to tackle waiting lists and waste by implementing the reforms that have already been outlined to the Executive (multiple times) in excruciating detail.

Write for us.

We're always on the lookout for talented writers and welcome submissions. Please send your opinion piece or pitch to: editor@commentcentral.co.uk

We also want to make sure the lessons learnt from the pandemic are applied more widely. For instance, look at how we provided COVID-19 tests. We instituted a wholly new decentralised ecosystem of providers who were able to administer the tests, process them and disseminate the results. This model can be applied to other services such as blood tests or CT Scans thus creating more options for people to get these procedures and taking the pressure off our hospitals.

Plenty of other countries do this already, so we wouldn't exactly be reinventing the wheel. Just that small change in approach could make a huge difference and I intend to advance legislation to bring it about.

Looking to the long term, we need to do all we can to support businesses in Northern Ireland. Luckily, Stormont has plenty of options. In 2015 the Conservative Government devolved the setting of Corporation Tax and on the floor of the Assembly I will be pushing to have it cut.

This would not only give local businesses the boost they need but also turbocharge foreign investment at the moment when our country is forging new and exciting trade and investment partnerships globally.

Last, but by no means least, I am very focussed on liberalising Northern Ireland's outdated planning laws. We have already been stung by the current system in North Down, where the redevelopment of Bangor town centre was held up for over a year for no good reason. I want to work with all other parties in the Assembly to get the changes we need to ensure incidents like that never happen again so we can get building for once.

Such simple reforms will allow us to speed up the regeneration of all of town centres across Northern Ireland as well as make it easier to build the homes we need to tackle the housing crisis.

The tools to solve the problems we see every day are already there, I want to make sure they are actually used for once. So to bring a much needed wave of renewal to our politics, make the Conservatives your first choice for change on the 5th of May.

1 vote

Sign-up for free to stay up to date with the latest political news, analysis and insight from the Comment Central team.

By entering your email address you are agreeing to Comment Central’s privacy policy